In this KIRC update I want to step away from talk about policy, and go a bit personal for just a moment.
Earlier this week I had a heart-to-heart chat with a long time friend, who also happens to be a family caregiver to an elderly and ill parent.
Our conversation got me thinking about the various mental games I employed to help me handle some of the more challenging moments of caregiving for my mother.
My friend had reached out seeking advice because they had ‘hit the wall.’ The 'emotional' wall.
They told me they felt more tired than they ever believed could be possible.
They were frustrated at their own life seeming to take a back seat because ALL of their energy and focus was going towards their parent.
They explained how some days they feel resentful at having to do so much to care for a parent; one who isn’t always seemingly kind or appreciative in return.
They expressed the role of elder caregiver seems much harder than having raised a child.
They felt bad and guilty for having these feelings.
As I listened, I encouraged my friend to go ahead and vent.
I couldn’t help but relive some of the ‘darker’ moments in my own caregiving journey; the days when I was simply so angry at all I had to do each day. So many times I just wanted OUT! And then I would be overcome with guilt.
I know so many of us move through these feelings.
I chatted for a while with my friend and I offered up some of the tools I often turned to to pull myself back from the brink.
I’m not a therapist or trained counselor, but I have lived and experienced what can be a crazy roller coaster of emotions.
Here are some of the items I would think about to “talk myself off the ledge.”
Love them for who they are.
Love them where they are (in life’s journey).
Love them with no expectations of reciprocal emotions, support or gratitude.
Remember: our parents are only human, with all the faults, bumps and bruises of anyone. Who knows what deck of cards life dealt them which drives who they are in this ‘third third.’
Remember: when it’s over… it’s over.
That final thought would, without fail, help me regain some balance.
None of us knows when the end will come. It could be six weeks, six months or six years. But it WILL end.
And when your loved one’s number is called it happens in a fraction …of a second… of a moment. A final gasp of air … and then they are gone. Forever.
And then we forge ahead. We regroup. The constant errands - stop. The doctors appointments - stop. There are no more trips to the pharmacy. The 24/7 worry about their welfare vanishes. Every time the phone rings you no longer jump afraid bad news is on the other end.
We eventually begin to decompress, rest and get sleep. And life goes on…
So the next time you find yourself in a moment of ‘overwhelm’ remember:
Love them for who they are because once they are gone… they are gone.
Do you have other 'go-to' mental tricks which have helped you? I would love to hear how others have faced these moments. Jump into the discussion and share!
*Header Image: Courtesy Adobe Stock
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